El Cedral is a village on the southwest side of Cozumel. It is also the site of the island’s oldest Mayan ruins, which date to AD 800. Spanish explorers first discovered El Cedral in 1518, and it became the island’s first official city in 1847. Today it’s home to a small community of quaint houses and farms, as well as an annual festival.
Most of the Mayan temple that stood on this site has been torn down, but a small archway remains, and it is enough for you to visualize what daily life may have been like at the time of the Mayan civilization. Visitors can view the ruins, alongside a small church, as well as the village of El Cedral as it stands today. Tours of Cozumel usually include a stop in El Cedral.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There are vendors selling embroidered handicrafts, jewelry, and more in the village.
- Because it’s a small site and takes a short time to visit, there are no tours of El Cedral alone, but the sight is included in broader tours of Cozumel.
- The annual Festival de El Cedral takes place from late April to early May.
How to Get There
El Cedral is located off the Carretera Costera Sur highway between kilometers 17 and 18 in Cozumel. It’s a 30-minute drive from the airport. Some motorcycle and buggy tours of the visit the village. During the annual Festival de El Cedral, buses regularly depart from the parking lot across from Chedraui, near the airport, to accommodate the crowds.
When to Get There
The site is open daily from sunrise to sunset. In late April, you can catch the annual Festival de El Cedral, celebrating local artists, music, and traditions. During the festival, the village is packed with visitors and vendors, and the atmosphere resembles a state fair, with games, rides, and entertainment. Many of the events take place in the afternoon and evening.
Another archaeological site on Cozumel, El Caracol is located within the island’s Punta Sur Eco Beach Park. Snail sculptures used to adorn the dome of the tiny temple, along with rows of actual snails embedded in the stucco; hence the name El Caracol, which means “snail” in Spanish. Tours of Cozumel usually include stops at El Cedral and El Caracol.